Rare Cell Detection Workshop Brings together Scientists, Engineers and Doctors

February 18, 2013

Biointerfaces Institute at NCRC exemplifies collaboration by hosting a unique workshop.

How can university scientists and biotech companies work together to develop new ways to detect rare disease-related cells and particles in the bloodstream or tissues?

That search for the “needle in the haystack” of the human body was the key issue at a two-day workshop held in January 2013 by the U-M Biointerfaces Institute, based at the North Campus Research Complex.

It brought together dozens of U-M researchers from the Medical School, College of Engineering and other schools, and representatives from an array of local and regional biotech firms.

U-M clinician-researchers spoke about the need for better detection of rare but important cells and particles in the diseases they treat, and small group discussions about ways to detect circulating tumor cells, inflammatory cells, pathogenic cells and fractionated pluripotent stem cells.

The discussion wasn’t just academic – - the institute is offering a total of $100,000 in seed funding grants to help U-M teams start projects that address issues in rare cell and particle detection. Biotech companies may also be interested in adapting their existing technologies to solve issues related to cell and particle detection in specific diseases.

The successful workshop is the latest in a series sponsored by the Biointerfaces Institute, which addresses issues at the boundaries of life sciences, physical sciences and engineering.

Co-organizer John Younger, M.D., Emergency Medicine, called it “clearly the most interdisciplinary life sciences event held at U-M in recent memory.”